Annie Dillard is my Spirit Animal

Many of my OBU science friends will remember Dr. Jett reading us passages from “Pilgrim at Tinker Creek” but I don’t know if it spoke to everyone in the same way it did to me. Annie Dillard, the author of that book, raised Christian among the Appalachian mountains writes books unlike nothing I usually read. This summer, on my list of things to do, was read quite a few of her books. I went to Barnes and Noble specifically for it and everything. It took me a while to find it because her books are neither fiction or non fiction. They tell no story, its mostly just a stream of consciousness.
She has a love for nature, science, and deep thinking. She wanders and wonders and exists in her world to make an impact on the world without changing it- its inherent beauty, anyway- if that makes sense. She wants to be fully present in each moment but still has a vision. She’s engaged and observant and in love with the world around her. Though my experiences are different, I connect with her narrative for more than just an appreciation for taking walks through the woods. Her feelings about the birds taking flight and listening to a rushing stream speak to my soggy heart about the fascination and profundity I feel when laying in bed with my nieces, studying human development, and learning and experiencing life in general.
Her books don’t necessarily have a medical correlation, but they have inspired me a great deal in regards to my consciousness, being present, and enjoying every moment. I also like her spirit of exploration and discovery and hope to apply it to my learning during my medical education and into my future practice as well.
Its hard to pick favorites so I will keep posting quotes as I leaf through my books. And now you’ll know why I do it.
Here are some of my favorite quotes:
“I alternate between thinking of the planet as home- dear and familiar stone hearth and garden- and as a hard land of exile in which we are all sojourners.”
“The gaps are the thing. The gaps are the spirit’s one home, the altitudes and latitudes so dazzlingly spare and clean that the spirit can discover itself like a once-blind man unbound. The gaps are the clefts in the rock where you cower to see the back parts of God; they are fissures between mountains and cells the wind lances through. The icy narrowing fjords splitting the cliffs of mystery. Go up into the gaps. If you can find them; they shift and vanish too. Stalk the gaps. Squeak into a gap in the soil, turn, and unlock- more than a maple- a universe. This is how you spend this afternoon, and tomorrow morning, and tomorrow afternoon. Spend the afternoon. You can’t take it with you.”
“I am sorry I ran from you. I am still running, running from that knowledge, that eye, that love from which there is no refuge. For you meant only love, and love, and I felt only fear, and pain. So once in Israel love came to us incarnate, stood in the doorway between two worlds, and we were all afraid.”
“You’ve got to jump off cliffs all the time, and build your wings on the way down.”
“Thomas Merton wrote, ‘There is always a temptation to diddle around in the contemplative life, making itsy-bitsy statues.’ There is always an enormous temptation in all of life to diddle around making itsy-bitsy friends and meals and journeys for itsy-bitsy years on end. It is so self-conscious, so apparently moral, simply to step aside from the gaps where the creeks and winds pour down, saying ‘I never merited this grace,’ quite rightly, and then to sulk along the rest of your days on the edge of rage. But I won’t have it. The world is wilder than that in all directions, more dangerous and bitter, more extravagant and bright. We are making hay when we should be making whoopee; we are raising tomatoes when we should be raising Cain, or Lazarus.”

Medical School

Medical School Schedule

A couple of you have asked for my schedule so here is a typical day!
With the exception of some weird days, the following is sort of “A Day in the Life” of what I have found works best for me. Its all but required that we go to class. (There are usually points involved just for showing up.) When the whole week stretches in front of me with 15 hours of biomedical foundations (BMF) and then our 2 clinically based classes adding 2-4 hours each, as well as Anatomy gearing up, its getting to be a lot of class time.
6:10 AM- Wake up! Coffee.
6:20 AM- Get dressed, hair, makeup, breakfast.
6:45 AM- Gather up gym clothes, change of clothes for after the gym, books, backpack, packed lunch, etc.
6:50 AM- Leave for School!
7:15 AM- Put stuff in my locker, lunch in the fridge, more coffee.
7:25 AM- Head to the library. Print lecture notes, go to my carrel and look over stuff or bang head on my desk.
8:00 AM- Class starts. We have completed 3 credit hours already. Boom! BMF I- Biochem DONE. Now we are in Genetics, Molecular Bio, and Embryology. Easily my three favorite courses from undergrad rolled into one.  We usually have 2 or 3 hours. On really heavy days we have 4. We get a 10 minute break at ten til of every hour and so I will stretch, get water or coffee, pee, or lay on the floor, wishing I could sleep.
12:00 PM- Lunch. I bring a lunch most days and so does everyone else for the most part. By 12:20 I’m usually done eating. I’ll study, print stuff off for the next day, run to QT, or call my niece Addie since she isn’t in school.
1:00 PM- OMM. Today we had OMM and its fun so I’ll go with that even though we only have it once a week. It lasts 2 hours and they have a guest osteopathic doc come teach us certain techniques. Its starting out slow still (we haven’t learned how to fix anything) but you get used to touching people and its nice to move around a little. Its definitely more social than other classes so I like it.
3:00 PM- Anatomy. Again, we don’t start dissecting til next week but we went today and took a mock practical, assigned group leaders, went thru lab procedures, etc. They also posted our cadavers’ causes of death so that was super interesting. I’m excited and grateful for the gift of these peoples’ bodies.
5:00 PM- Work out. Honestly, the whole day goes better if I run/lift RIGHT after class. Otherwise I talk myself out of it later. If I can just make it into the gym without looking at another handout, then I can run and not think about how much studying awaits me at the end of each evening.
6:00 PM- I change into comfy clothes and study in a breakout room with my friend Macy. Making it through note taking and reviewing everything that was lectured on that day is the ideal but we don’t always make it. Sometimes a lecture or two gets stacked onto the next day’s which makes tomorrow even more of a load. I would say that an hour of material here covers about the equivalent of 4-50 minute undergrad class periods. And OBU was no cake walk. It probably takes a good hour and a half of sifting through each lecture before I feel good enough to move on. We eat snacks, take breaks to get coffee or just talk about other things. And of course we talk thru harder material and ask each other questions if things feel iffy. We have a good system going. Once we can’t go without dinner anymore, we leave.
9:00 PM- I get home to BA on average around 9-9:30. I sit (or lay) down and try to breathe deeply and make peace with the day.
9:30 PM- Depending on how I’m feeling, I’ll either take a shower now or go right back to studying and shower before bed.
11:00 PM- I start entertaining the idea of going to bed. I’ll gather stuff up for the next day and decide where my stopping point on studying is.
12:00AM- Bedtime. If I go much past midnight, I’m worthless in the morning until after lunch!
This schedule takes SO. MUCH. DISCIPLINE. Seriously everyday, I try to find a way around it or how to get out of doing something and just sleep, but you really just have to do it, or you’ll fail. If it seems like I’m studying all the time, I feel like I am; but, I also fell like I’m not. I feel like I should study more. Always. I’m either studying or on my way to studying. There’s really just no time for anything you don’t FORCE into your day. You have to say, “This is something I have to do even though I should study.” If its for my physical or emotional wellbeing, I’ll do it. So that’s pretty much running and eating. Its very difficult but I’m not saying that to complain or because I hate it. I’m telling the premeds out there because if this doesn’t sound worth it to you to be a doctor, you probably should find something else. For me, its just like with running. You get out of it what you put in, and the pain is worth the progress. I love what I’m doing. I would do it for free, but I’ll do you one better and say that I would pay to do this, because I actually am paying this school to make me do this everyday. Crazy right?
P.S. Posts will be less frequent because like I said, I should always be studying. I will make a little time for this though! Thanks for reading and helping my blog grow!

Medical School

Mondays are for MMMMMlleeeeggggggghhhhh

The good thing about tests being on Mondays is that you have the whole weekend to attempt to prepare.
The rest of the issue of Monday exams involves the fact that its on Monday, and the whole week starts out with me being exhausted.
I’ve never had a favorite day of the week and I try to make everyday the best it can be.
But being up late last night meant my eyes were still stinging with sleep when I pryed them open at 6 this morning.
The kind of morning where you can’t even get your eyes open wide enough to get eyeliner and mascara on without poking yourself in the eye. Guys, you know that feeling right? 🙂
I choked down a muffin and drove to school (an hour and a half early) with my many bags of food and clothing and binders full of handouts.
After the exam, we all kill some time in the lounge. It all starts over again with a new unit of 16 weeks of material packed in in, oh, about an hour.
This routine will be what my Mondays are like for the foreseeable future.
Thankfully, its an exciting time with some of the nicest, funniest people I have ever met.

studying with my pup


Medical School

Late nights

Marathon studying has begun. In part because of some highly disorganized teaching and partly because it’s just gonna happen when you cover glycolysis, through the rest of biochemistry in a week.
Last night, I got home late from school and thought it would be a great time-saver to take my toothbrush into the shower and brush my teeth. I’m not sure if it saves time or not but I do it quite a bit. Anyway I’m not sure if it was the break in routine or if I was really that “out of it,” but I swallowed the entire mouthful of toothpaste.
What. In. The. World.
Needless to say, I’m glad it’s Friday.

Health Life Lists Medical School

10 Things Vol. 1

In an attempt to expedite some posts, (since I know I’ve been lagging lately) I’m starting a new series where I just list 10 random things of whatever I want to talk about. Ha! So here is my first installment.
1) Medical students like to complain a lot, but I don’t think it’s because we are negative people. We really are proud of what we are doing, but all we know how to talk about is school. If we said “we had three quizzes this week and it was awesome!” you would think we were insane.
2) Crazy professors don’t end in undergrad. If anything they get weirder. Seriously we’ve got some real nutjobs.
3) I spent well over $1000 this week on bills, club dues, running shoes, food, etc. Sorry not sorry.
4) My class is only 36% female. I was expecting closer to 50%.
5) I live at the school/at other people’s apts now. I have shower items, workout gear, a change of clothes, scrubs, and multiple stashes of food in various places up at school and at my friend Macy’s already. I take meals and coffee whenever/wherever I can get them, and don’t be surprised if you happen upon me in a break out room and I’m laying on the floor. I’M ONLY RESTING MY EYES FOR FIVE MINUTES.
6) Many of my classmates have started reading this blog and that makes me excited (and embarrassed!). Also I’m a little scared I’ll say something wrong!
7) My dog is not adjusting well to me being gone all day. He follows me everywhere and won’t leave the base of my chair when I’m studying at my desk. Sometimes he just sits there and whines at me.
8) Everyone is so helpful! I just can’t get over it. There are these amazing people who are just SO on top of things. Normally I would think “gunner!” but they aren’t because they SHARE their preparedness with the rest of the class. It’s super encouraging.
9) In the science department at OBU we would get yelled at and deducted points if we had too much info on any one slide during presentations. This rule does not apply to medical professors and they can even just put text boxes of testable info that don’t even fit on the slide and add several pages of footnotes down below.
10) Arsenic is bad for pyruvate dehydrogenase and genetically predisposed SIDS is caused by a deficiency in an enzyme that makes the babies blood sugar drop so low that they can’t cry and then they vomit and choke. There was also some very irrelevant politically-charged health insurance information opinion thrown in there as a plug for testing babies for SIDS. See? I told you I can only talk about school!

Medical School

The Honeymoon Phase

Medical School and I are still in that honeymoon phase. Everything that happens is novel and exciting, and I’m still soaking it all in. However, yesterday was my first medical school exam and I think this “boyfriend” of mine might be slightly abusive. All told- after one week, the test covered somewhere around 16 topics or chapters. We had one hour of instruction for each chapter. I didn’t feel dead immediately afterwards and actually was pleased with my score, but by the end of yesterday, I NEEDED to lay down. You know your entire life is studying when “indulging” involves paying the extra fee to take the turnpike so you can get home to lay down faster. I also have been purchasing things left and right with loan money. Some things I needed (granola bars) and some things I decided I deserved (running stuff). I’m finding that I am very reward driven, and I end up negotiating with myself in my head even though I will really end up changing that negotiation (i.e. lying to myself) to get/do what I really feel like getting/doing in the end 🙂 For example, as soon as I woke up this morning I was trying to schedule my day so that I could get a nap in ASAP. At first it involved me saying “Okay Andi, just get through all the power points this evening really efficiently and then go to bed early.” Then I changed it to “You can study before dinner, take a nap, eat, and then study again.” Now the plan is to take a nap after I finish this blog and study later. Unfortunately the distractions and temptations that plagued me in undergrad are still a bump on the study-struggle-bus route only I don’t have the luxury of being able to play catch up and space out the workload a little. If you get behind, you get BEHIND, and you get behind QUICK. Because that test yesterday? We have another one 6 days from now over the next 18 chapters.

Medical School Science


Things are moving right along. I think you’ll find that my posts are getting shorter and more “this is what happened today” than actual long, thought out posts about certain topics. Things change.
Biochemistry is quick. I mean they tell you that in undergrad and they’re like “they’ll cover a semester in 6 weeks.” But you don’t really believe it. You’re just like “yeah sure but I’ll know more things by the time I’m there.” Nope. I’m still the same girl that falls asleep after trying to study too long. Also the whole “6 weeks” thing is more like two weeks. We have a midterm Monday. Quizzes 3/5 days in the week. Yup. Our final is a week from Monday. Then we move on. Three days in and we are in chapter 12. So there’s a little glance at how quick it goes.
In other, more exciting news, we went to OMM lab today. For those of you who don’t know, OMM is osteopathic manipulative medicine. We practiced touching a partner, getting to know what certain kinds of structures feel like under our skin and how to describe those things. It sounds basic but it was a relief after talking about michaelis-menten kinetics. Plus it makes me feel doctor-y. My partner found an “asymmetry” of touch on my back where my muscle was strained and the osteopath that was there adjusted me after class! Perks of being a stomach sleeper. It’s odd getting down at eye level with someone’s crotch and pushing on their iliac crest, but I liked it! Fun stuff.
Now back to studying!

Medical School Science

First day of medical school classes

Day one is in the books. I am a medical student. I survived one day. I sat there thanking my undergrad professors silently for giving me little morsels to remember. I actually thought of some tricks and deep rooted fundamental knowledge they taught me to help me dig into biochemistry today.
I’ve got to study some more still before I call it a night, but I thought I would share a little gem of a video that represents my life now.

Funny Life

Last Ditch Attempts

Today, as a last ditch attempt to get as smart as possible in a short amount of time, I decided to stare at the vitamin aisle wishing there was a pill to drastically improve brain function.
Tomorrow is the day I begin medical school classes.

Friends Medical School

Class of 2018

When I toured medical schools as an undergrad, I viewed the medical students as these extremely focused, competent, professional people. Now that I’m here I see that we are that, but we are so much more. Medical students are funny, fun-loving, kind, caring, sarcastic, silly, curious, multifaceted, friendly, fascinating people with all kinds of backgrounds, senses of humor and experiences. Despite our differences, our common thread of medicine has bonded us in less than a week. The sense of belonging and the great privilege to know these people and learn to become physicians with them, has me so excited to be a part of this class of 2018.